Feature

Towering ambition

How a no-land-bank strategy and premium positioning helped Oberoi Realty race ahead

Tushar Mane

When other 16-year-old boys were busy chasing girls or playing cricket, Vikas Oberoi would be at the dining table, drawing plans for buildings. In the evening, the same table would become a boardroom, with Oberoi and his father Ranvir Oberoi discussing the family construction business for hours on end. Oberoi Constructions was then a small builder, with just two residential buildings to its name. More than a decade later, when Vikas Oberoi took over as managing director in 1998, he dusted off those drawings, renamed the company Oberoi Realty and set off to transform both, Mumbai’s landscape and the company’s fortunes. His first project was in Kandivili, a Mumbai suburb. “It was exactly the kind of project I had dreamed of building — there was a swimming pool, gym… everything that I wanted in a residential development,” says Oberoi, now 43 years old. 

He may well have reason to be pleased with himself. The ₹1,148-crore Oberoi Realty is now the second-most valuable listed real estate developer in India, after DLF. And it’s done this through a combination of right timing, right location, and a prudent and conservative approach in a trade characterised by bold, dramatic bets. How did it get there? And more significantly, can it continue to grow using the same tactics?

Focused approach

The cornerstone of Oberoi’s strategy has been its riveted focus on the premium end of the housing and commercial real estate market, from day one. The Kandivili project, Oberoi Gardens, for instance, had three towers of 27 floors each and all 324 apartments were 3-bedroom ones. “We wanted to tell people they can get luxury even in the suburbs,” says Oberoi. It isn’t just add-ons like tennis courts and air-conditioned lobbies that made the difference, though — in Mumbai’s tough real estate market, Oberoi Realty has managed to build a reputation of delivering apartments on time.

“Except for a six month delay here and there, all our projects have been delivered on time,” claims Oberoi, pointing that outsourcing construction to firms like L&T and Samsung C&T has helped ensure quality and timely delivery in its high-profile projects. “Oberoi’s

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